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Alive
by Scott Sigler
Del Rey, $18.00 TPB, 347pp
Publication date: July 2015

This YA novel is a pretty straightforward suspense story with science fiction elements.  Our main protagonist, Em, starts the story by fighting her way out of a locked coffin only to find herself in a dusty, forgotten room full of other coffins.  As she helps open the other coffins to free young adults like herself, she finds some where the inhabitant is just a pile of dusty bones – very young child bones.  From the twelve coffins in the room, only six people are still alive.  All of them are young adults, none of them know their own names, and all of them believe the day to be their twelfth birthday.  Em takes her name from a small plaque on her coffin:  M. Savage. 

Maybe it’s because Em was the only one who had to break out of her coffin – and no easy feat was it – or maybe it was because she was the first one to wake, but the others seem to accept the leadership that comes naturally to her.  She finds purpose in the thought that she will figure out why they are in this dungeon, find their parents, and lead them back into the daylight.

But the prison or dungeon in which they find themselves, tells a terrible story.  Everywhere is evidence of a terrible war; adult skeletons litter the corridors.  But the side rooms are where the real horrors lie:  broken coffins with more dead children.  The corridors lead on forever but just about when they don’t think they’ll find anything but more dead children, they find another group of living young people.  This group had a similar experience although their waking was uneventful, maybe even – planned.  The groups merge and Em struggles to maintain her leadership role.  Water and food become an all-consuming need and when they find an animal, some of their memories said:  pig=food.  A desperate chase to kill the pig leads them to a cavern where everything changes.

This was fun and a very fast read.  I felt like I was reading as quickly as they were traveling.  I liked the POV, and I liked most of the characterizations – something that was a bit difficult to do as none of the characters had much memory.  The characters were somewhat one-dimensional but it was in keeping with the simple plot.  And it had the one thing I think publishers are looking for these days:  young adult characters.  As this is the first of a trilogy, we can look forward to seeing what becomes of the characters.  ~~  Catherine Book

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